This is a long overdue post. I have planned this one sometime in January but did not gather enough willingness to pen it down.
Obviously, there are lots of topics to write today. I can write about ‘Bhooter Bhobishyot’, a wonderful comedy with great acting and witty one liner like “United we stand, Divided we misunderstand” and “Apnar Phuto ache?” This one is a very nice, different kind of movie so if anyone of you have not seen it please go and enjoy a show.
Then I could have write on ‘Sonar Kella’, I mean not the movie, but the entire controversy surrounding the image created based on the theme which offended our honourable CM of Bengal. Ahh… political games!
The Next topic could have been IPL, Shakib Al Hasan or the great (yet another) comeback by Dada, the Warrior Prince (BTW, a DVD by the same name is gifted by Shreya and it worth its every penny!).
As Shreya’s name came, she could also be a possible topic to write on. Write on all the crazy stuffs she does to make my life no less interesting than an adventure biker.
But today, I am not going to write about any of those topics. No. Something is slowly creeping in to my mind. I knew it. Knew it for a long time (You can check my post in last August) but it seems the time has come. The execution is going to happen soon.
I first time came to Kolkata in September 1983. Pretty funny as you might think, because till that time there was no existence of mine in this world. I was still in my mother’s womb. She was close to 6-7 months pregnant by that time. My parents spent the puja in there new rented house in Goria and then Ma went back to Dakishnshwar, my ‘Mamabari’ for the delivery and that’s where in a govt. hospital I saw the first light of planet earth in the afternoon of 6th December.
I do not know when I returned to Kolkata. I could assume sometime in early 1984. And then my growing up period was started, deeply connected to the city. I grew up from a child, to a boy, to a youth and finally a man. At the same time, my city gets old, or does she? With all the dazzling shopping malls and flyovers and Millennium Parks, the city of Kolkata looks new with every passing day.
But the city is changing, and changing fast. All the mid-afternoon hawkers who used to sell various products ranging from egg to fish to utensils to toys, by roaming around the streets are being replaced by the delivery men from Flipkart (God bless them!) and Snapdeal (Not so impressive). The ‘Mudir Dokan’s are replaced by Spencers. The old Tiger printed red government buses are replaced by new Volvo look-alike buses by some company called ‘Jnnurm’ (Funny name, I have to accept).
One interesting change I have observed is the tele-communication. In 80’s, only a few homes used to have telephones and I remember neighbours of such houses used to give those numbers to their relatives for emergencies. But then telephone started becoming necessity and those telephone owners became less friendly and by early-nineties there was a boom of STD-ISD booths throughout the city. And since we did not have a telephone in our house till 1998 and due to my father’s job in Patna we used to use those booths pretty frequently. Then by 2000, most of Bengali high-middle class households became proud owner of BSNL telephones and those booths started losing their importance. But hey, if your businesses is down stop the sell and change the product and the easy replacement was computer/internet. And then suddenly you started finding a lot of cyber cafes at every corner of the streets, this continued for another 7-8 years by which time a computer/laptop became affordable and is a regular piece of household décor. And finally the cyber café business has started going down and now days you would mostly find those shops selling prepaid mobile cards or providing services like Printing, Scanning and Photocopy.
My city is changing. Big time.
It’s still Kolkata, the heart and soul of the city is remaining same but may be the clothes are changing. The old shirts from Gariahat are getting replaced by Van Heusen suits. The city looks more colourful, more intimidating and less green, even sometimes less friendly. But still it’s MY city. This is the City of my dreams. Yes, I want to visit London, Paris, New York, LA and Munich but at end of the day I want to come back to Kolkata, the city which I can relate to.
In last 28 years, I have gone out of Kolkata quite a few times. I was part of various trips in Benaras (When I was 2 and half years old), Goa, Rajasthan and even Sydney. And every time I loved returning to my place. It’s better feelings in case you are returning by Train to look at those arches on Howrah Bridge. I felt like my city is welcoming me back with open hands, telling me, “I missed you!”
I spent couple of years during my masters in the industrial town of Kanpur and I still remember how much I used to miss my city for those two years. I used to miss the dust, the traffic, the food, the crowd on the roads; I missed the smell of my city. I remember how much I used to become desperate to come back during every possible holiday. To tell you the truth, I feared that I would get a job in Bangalore and would have to settle there, I also mentally prepared myself to accept the dreaded fate but as the luck would have it; I was the only guy in the class who end up getting a job in Kolkata. And after two years I came back, as we say in Bengali “ঘরের ছেলে ঘরে ফিরল!”
The last five years were mixed. Had good times, not so good times, felt great joy and became heartbroken! But as the poet said, “এই শহর জানে আমার প্রথম সব কিছু” and all my feelings were shared with the every bit of this great city. I felt peace while walking down the streets around Maidan. I have enjoyed the lighting at every Durga Puja, every Christmas! Walked with thousands of man after the completion of a cricket match in Eden Gardens, waited for hours in the queue in front of Peter Cat to have my own plate of Chello Kebab, Had ice cream by the Ganges with my sweet heart, went to Victoria Memorial with my friends. Cried in my mind when I heard about boys and girls of my age got killed in the fire in park Street, abused the weather change with my colleagues who shared a cab with me at two o’clock in the afternoon pickups.
But with all the good, bad and ugly aspects it is my city. I can do whatever I want here. I can bash it like anything and at the next moment I and only I can have a fight with a Delhaite to prove my city is awesome!
But, now the time has come. In two weeks’ time I will be gone, gone to Southern state of Karnataka, yes in Bengaluru. Is it permanent? I don’t know, and that’s the scary part! I am telling myself, “Two years! That’s it. You will be back!”
But what if I can’t, what if there’s no suitable job for me in my beloved city. What if my struggle for existence and my wish to keep my parents and that crazy girl happy keep me away from coming back to my city?? I am sorry, I can’t even think about that now!
Okay, answer to that question is hidden in the future, but right now, I have to leave my city. I have to pack my belongings and stay in an unknown city, a city without any connection. A city where the only thing I can speak in the local language is “Kannada Gotila!” I do not like this at all. For last few months whenever I am out in a date with my girl or sometimes when I am alone, I have tried my best to accumulate all possible memories of my city.
But well, now I have to go. The alternates are not good enough and decision from heart rather than my mind could hurt me a lot. So, I am going my dear Kolkata but I will miss you. I promise I would come back at every possible opportunity (ok just a secret to be shared with you only, there is this another beautiful girl for whom I will try to come back too, I know you love her, don’t you). Be good. Keep your people happy, keep them in peace.
ভাল থেকো কলকাতা!!
[The above video is a tribute of mine to my lovely friend, Kolkata. I have created this video in 2007 using the Photostory software. The background song used is 'Amar Shohor' by Kolkata's very own Chandrabindoo. A big thanks to them. Most of the pictures used in this are taken by a French friend of one of my cousins, and a few photographs are taken from the net with the help of www.Google.com]